Why do I feel guilty?

I am hoping to blog each day in March for Two Writing Teachers Slice of Life.

Day 11 Why do I feel guilty?

Teacher guilt.  I’d be willing to bet my paycheck that we have all felt guilt, particularly over this past year. “I’m not doing enough. My kids are failing. They don’t understand this or that. I need to spend more time finding resources, planning new ways to engage them, rewriting my lessons, adding more comments to their progress reports….” I’m sure there are many more items to add to this list.

And yet, I am human. I have a family, a life outside of my classroom space. I deserve to have time for other interests in the evenings and on weekends. I do believe we are all better with our students when we take time for ourselves.

So why do I feel guilt? This goes back to not feeling enough – good enough, hard-working enough, caring enough. Pick a phrase and I’ve probably felt it. How can I be in my 33rd year of teaching and still feel like I don’t know what I’m doing? And the stresses over the last 12 months have been monumental in increasing my “not-enough”s. 

Part of the answer is the way I am wired – in a sense I was conditioned to put others ahead of myself. This started in my childhood and continued in my first marriage, which included raising 3 boys. In some ways it was like living in a vacuum cleaner – between my students and my family, they sucked up all of me that there was to give. It took a hard reset to realize this, and I’ve spent much of the last 6-7 years yanking myself out of the vacuum bag.  

I am trying to delete the “human self-causing guilt machine” that I used to be.  And yet, I still feel guilt. Do you?


Categorized as Linda

By Greg&Linda

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  1. Same here! If I don’t bring something home from school to work on I start to feel guilty for not doing enough! I saw a post from someone the other day that was along the lines of “I signed a contract to work during these hours. I did not sign up to work every waking moment.” For some reason, that stuck with me and I’ve made an effort to not work as much in the evenings.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I will always feel guilt. I am pretty sure I was born wired with that intrinsic part of my DNA. The thing is, the older I get, I don’t let it affect me as much. The story in my head is much different now than when I was younger and I don’t listen to it as often anymore.

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  3. Up until this last year, I was constantly feeling guilty for not being good enough. However, the onslaught of negative comments towards teachers regarding teaching in a pandemic, and lack of district admin support gave me a huge wake up call. No matter what I do, it will never be good enough. So instead of working for better, I strive for more mediocre. This way I have more of myself to give to the people who actually care about me.

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  4. Oh my gosh, your post really resonates with me. I’m so sorry that you are carrying this around with you. I hope that you can find support among your friends, colleagues, family so that you can let go of some of that guilt!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Yep. I taught 38 years and felt all those things right up until the end. Then when the pandemic hit I felt guilty for not teaching (I retired Sept 1, 2019). I can’t tell you how many times I’ve apologized to my former colleagues for not being there w/ them. Is there any other profession that heaps guilt into those in it the way teaching does?

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  6. Oh, yes, I am definitely carrying around all of that teacher guilt. Throw in a huge heaping of mom guilt, because I am not helping my son enough with his online school, supporting him enough, playing with him enough so a year’s worth of isolation doesn’t suffocate him, etc. and the weight of my guilt that the house is a disaster, that I barely get five minutes for a conversation with my husband, and that sometimes I cannot stand the presence of my family for one more second. Some days, I am not sure who is under there, holding up all that burden.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. I just appreciate so much your vacuum cleaner bag metaphor!!! And your ‘hard reset’ leading to a long process of ‘yanking yourself out of the vacuum cleaner bag.’ Great, very original image.


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